Ryder Cup skipper Colin Montgomerie has described this year's European team as the most competitive he can remember.
The Scot -- who made his Ryder Cup debut at Kiawah Island in 1991 and played on eight teams -- must make three wild card selections on Sunday night following the Johnnie Walker Championship, the last event in the yearlong qualifying race.
The likes of Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Luke Donald are not playing here, though, and so are definitely reliant on a captain's pick.
Edoardo Molinari, Simon Dyson, Alvaro Quiros, Ross McGowan and others could all force their way into the team with a win this week, and will be aiming to convince Montgomerie of their wild card credentials.
"This isn't difficult, it's more or less impossible,â Montgomerie told Sky Sports News. "It is most unfortunate that I am going to have to leave out world stars. I am going to have to leave out players that feel they can help the European Tour cause.
"It's a bit like [Englandâs World Cup soccer coach] Fabio Capello having to leave out Theo Walcott, I suppose. He could only take 23, I can only take 12. I wish I could take 20, I do, I really do, because 20 deserve their spots this year, they really do,â he added. âThey've played great, the standard on tour has been the best it's ever been."
Unlike some of his predecessors, Montgomerie is determined to speak to all the contenders on Sunday, whether they make his team or not.
"This has been the hardest team to make of any Ryder Cup team I have been involved with,â he explained. âSo unfortunately, yes, I can't please everybody on Sunday night and I am going to speak to everybody.
"They understand that already. They understand my dilemma and their own,â he said. âAnd it is up to them to try and prove to me -- this last final chance to make it pay."
While Montgomerie says he understands the reasons why Casey, Harrington and Donald have stayed in the United States, it must still come as a massive disappointment that they have not answered the call he made last year and again in June.
Before last yearâs Johnnie Walker Championship, Montgomerie stated: "It will be an amazing event here next year. You'll find No. 5 through No. 25 (in the race for places) automatically playing here. I won't even have to ask them."
Before the Wales Open at Celtic Manor two months ago, another event where the entry list was not as stellar as he had hoped, Montgomerie said of this week: "I want to see them showing support for European golf and the European Tour and I will be very, very surprised if they are not there.
"That would make a whole lot of sense to a whole lot of people. I am convinced that I will have around eight candidates for three spots,â he added. "You can count on those eight playing at Gleneagles. They will be there."
It would have been 10 for three as it turned out. Instead it is six for three.